Coordination is a mandate set forth by Congress to insure that local interests and concerns are taken into account before federal actions are implemented.
Coordination is a powerful tool that can be used to protect private property rights, productive uses of land, and local economies from burdensome federal regulations.
Coordination works because most federal agencies are specifically directed by Congress to work with local governments before implementing policies or plans that will impact local communities.
Coordination is not a process that federal agencies can opt out of. However, it is rarely enforced because most local governments are not aware of this requirement and have not received training on how to implement the process.
When a local government asserts its coordination authority, federal agencies must coordinate with the local government.
The United States Forest Service is required by the Federal Land Management Policy Act to work to make its plans consistent with local plans.
The U.S. Congress has provided the following criteria for coordination:
1) Local governments must be given prior notice of agency activities.
2) Agencies must keep apprised of local plans.
3) Agencies must consider local plans.
4) Local governments must be meaningfully involved.
These are the minimum criteria to be used under every law where Congress directs the agencies to coordinate with local government.
Coordination, when asserted by the local government, requires that the burden to prepare and fund the analysis, study all reasonable alternatives, and resolve local concerns, is wholly on the federal agency. The federal agency has to sit at the table with the local government while developing the analysis — this aspect is not optional.
Coordination is available to local governments whenever the agency is involved with land use inventory, planning, and management activities. This means that every thing the agency does must be coordinated with the local governments.